Raising Active Kids
As adults we know how important exercise is to good health. It relates to physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. More and more, we are learning that an active adulthood often begins when we are young. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
At the same time, directing kids to “go get some exercise” can be met with some resistance. Here are some fresh ideas to inspire activity at every developmental stage.
For the youngest kids, choose active games, stories, and songs. Developing a daily routine that involves time for developmental powerhouses, like games, stories, and songs is a great parenting move. When you make these components of the routine active, it is a double win. Games like Follow the Leader; Duck, Duck, Goose; and Tag are active and interactive. Search online for “songs with movement” or “dance songs for kids” for tons of fun options.
Choose active gifts. Rather than purchasing a video game for a child’s birthday, pick an outdoor game or gear instead. There are lots of options, even for kids who are not particularly sporty. Stomp rockets, for instance, are affordable, super fun, and involve a lot of stomping and chasing! Older kids and adults might like cornhole or ladder toss games. Inline skates or a skateboard are great ideas, too. Be sure to purchase the protective equipment kids need to use their new gift safely.
Infuse ordinary activities with fun. Walks or hikes with a destination are way more fun for kids. Walk to visit a friend or family member and have a short visit before heading back to your house or car. Find a hike with a waterfall at the end. Or make a list of things to search for along the way.
Build an obstacle course using stuff from around the house. Indoors or outside, there is no end to the fun that can be had building an obstacle course. Using anything you can find, both the building and the running of obstacle courses are active pursuits. You could challenge kids to build them for each other and see how long they take to complete.
Organized sports are a great idea for building skills and learning to work together toward a common goal. There is a lot of satisfaction and self-confidence for kids to see how daily practice adds up to real improvement.
No matter how you inspire your kid to be more active, you’ll have the greatest success if you get involved too. Kids emulate the adults around them. The more active you are the easier it will be for them to be active too. Sing, dance, play, build, and run right along with them. The active time you spend together will help them develop lifelong health and make great memories and strong bonds, too.
Dr. Jaclyn Lozier is a pediatrician with SVMC Pediatrics, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, in Bennington, VT.